Veteran Stories

There are amazing stories of veterans time in service, letters home, family remembrances and research successes. Here are a few we thought you might enjoy or that might help with your military family history.  Please email your story to:   Thank you to those who have submitted and God bless.  Real War Photos Staff

          Veterans Support Civilian’s Search for Great-Grandfather’s Service Record    By: Joe Felice    

  Shortly after my presentation at Sahler-Sedan VFW Post 287 in Coatesville, PA at the beginning of December 2019, I came across an old family photo belonging to my mother.  In the photo, was an American sailor wearing a First World War era Navy uniform.  After showing her the photo, she remarked that she did not recognize the sailor.  About a week later, when paging through the album again, I noticed that the face of the sailor seemed to match with the groom in a photo my mother showed me some years before of her grandmother Amelia’s wedding day.  My mother never knew her grandfather since he had passed away nearly two decades before she was born.  However, she was very close with Amelia and was surprised by this photo of John in uniform since Amelia never spoke of her late husband’s Naval service.  My research into the life of Cpl. Wellington Sahler, namesake of the aforementioned VFW Post who was killed in action at the Meuse, bolstered my interest in the history of World War I.  Thus, I knew I had to learn whether or not John Faulkner was a veteran of the Great War.

I knew from the 1920 census John had worked at the Philadelphia Navy Yard as a carpenter.  On August 19, 2022, Nathan Jordan, an archivist with the National Archives in Atlanta, GA provided documentation that John worked for the Emergency Fleet of the U.S. Shipping Board (USSB).  Nathan sent John’s WWI Classification list which stated that he worked for the Emergency Fleet in 1918.  Although this new information may bring a search, which has lasted for around three years to a conclusion for now, it does leave one remaining question.  USSB uniforms had two white piping stripes around the collar.  The photo of John in uniform shows him with three white piping stripes around his collar, meaning he was wearing an official Navy uniform.  Therefore, the photograph does suggest that at one point my great-grandfather did serve in the Navy.  Grace Schultz, an archivist with the National Archives in Philadelphia, followed up with her own search.  She checked two series of records related to the USSB.  However, she found no additional mention of John’s name in these records.

Over the past few years, many people have supported my investigation into proving that my great-grandfather was the sailor in the photograph.  Bryan K. McGraw and Theresa Fitzgerald, Directors at the National Archives, along with Corey Stewart and Amy Forsch, both archivists in St. Louis, searched for John’s Naval record.  Additionally, Christopher Eck, Executive Director, National Historical Publications and Records Commission at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., is a descendant of the late Pvt. Lance Eck.  Pvt. Eck, his distant cousin, chartered the Sahler-Sedan VFW Post. Also, Dr. Jonathan Friedman, my former history professor from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. On several occasions, they were kind enough to share points of contacts in their professional networks to advise me in my research. Also, Tom Totoris, retired Navy, served from 1971-1997. He is a member of VFW Post 5432. Recently, he mailed me historical items from the Great War era. Thank you to all the countless veterans, historians, archivists, librarians and genealogists who offered their time and support in helping me to learn more about my great-grandfather John Faulkner.

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